image

Sarah Lee Wai-sze

Please God have mercy: Hong Kong cycling queen Sarah Lee prays for seriously injured friend and rival Kristina Vogel

London Games heroine in tears after dual Olympic champion from Germany suffers spinal injuries following a heavy collision at the Cottbus velodrome

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 11:32am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 10:51pm

Hong Kong cycling heroine Sarah Lee Wai-sze is praying that her great German friend and rival, Kristina Vogel, will pull through and make a miraculous recovery after the Rio Olympic champion suffered severe injuries during training in Germany last week.

Lee made a rare post on her Facebook page describing how she was “shocked” and “worried sick” that Vogel had to be airlifted to a Berlin hospital after a high-speed collision with another rider at the Cottbus velodrome.

The crash on the concrete track last Tuesday occurred when the rider suddenly entered the track while she was accelerating and the impact reportedly left Vogel, the dual Olympic champion, with spinal injuries that required surgery. The 27-year-old German remains in intensive care and 31-year-old Lee made her feelings known in her Facebook post.

“I cried when I heard the news,” said Lee, who has regularly competed against the German on the professional circuit. “I was very down and everybody has been so worried about her,” said the Hong Kong rider, who took part in the German Grand Prix in the eastern city of Cottbus outside Berlin over the weekend.

Lee recently went up against Vogel, losing to the 11-time world champion in the sprint in taking third place and losing again to the German – a part-time police officer – when the Hong Kong ace took sixth place in another race in Germany.

I’ll be ready for Jakarta, promises Hong Kong rider Yang Qianyu as she shines in national road championships

Lee won the team sprint with a Colombian rider at the German Grand Prix in Cottbus, where riders wore armbands with the words “Stay Strong Kristina” in support of Vogel. Some riders have even started fundraising for the German rider with more than €18,000 (HK$165,000) donated so far, according to reports.

“My heart sank and every time I competed, my lips trembled,” wrote Lee, the 2012 London Games bronze medallist after learning the tragic news. “I really enjoy competing against Kristina and it’s rare that anybody beats her. I thought ‘what a great way to learn and compete against her in Germany’ but she has now been seriously injured and she’s absent from the track.”

Hong Kong medal-winning athletes in line for HK$20 million Asian Games bonanza

“I can’t believe this has happened,” Lee continued in her posting. “I even recommended some nice places to go [in Germany] to her but she’s now not here. We may be rivals on the track but off it, we are good friends. While I was competing in my races, she was undergoing surgery. It’s been hard for all of us.”

“I don’t even know whether I can stay strong myself. She will need a lot of time to recuperate.”

Lee doesn’t know when she will see Vogel again adding: “If God has mercy, I hope Kristina can make a miraculous recovery.”

Buck up or miss out: Sarah Lee urges Hong Kong teammates to do the work needed to join her at the Tokyo Olympics

It is not the first serious injury of Vogel’s career. Nine years ago, she was hit by a vehicle while training on the road and was in an induced coma for two days, suffering a broken vertebrae, broken jaw and fractures to her arm and hands. But she has since made a strong comeback to become one of the world’s greatest track riders, winning Olympic gold in the team sprint in London 2012 and then the individual sprint title in Rio in 2016.